Signs and expectations are that at least 10 out of the 109 members of the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly are likely to contest for governorship elections in their states, Daily Trust reports.
Though the lawmakers are yet to formally declare their intentions to join the governorship race, scheming and caucusing around them revealed that it is just a matter of time before they will let out their ambitions.
Since the country returned to democracy in 1999, it has become the tradition of lawmakers in both chambers of the National Assembly to cross over from the parliament to the executive arm as governors, while second-term governors move to the parliament as senators.
While two of the lawmakers are expected to join the race during the off-season elections - 2021 and 2022 in Anambra and Ekiti states, the remaining eight are going to be part of the battle for governorship seats during the 2023 general elections.
Barau I. Jibrin
Regarded as a grassroots politician by virtue of his interventions in Kano - the Centre of Commerce, Barau I Jibrin, a two-term senator, represents Kano North Senatorial District at the Senate, where he chairs the influential Appropriations Committee.
Between 1999 and 2003, Barau represented Tarauni Federal Constituency of Kano State at the House of Representatives. As chairman of the Appropriation Committee at the Green chamber, Barau attracted projects to the constituency.
Yet to declare his intention to vie for the governorship seat, pundits believe that he is top among those who are likely to succeed Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje in 2023. A group - "Barau I. Jibrin for governor 2023" with thousands of members has been created by his constituents on social media.
The financial guru's passion for his constituents made him to recently facilitate power substations worth N3.3bn in Bichi and Kabo LGAs to stimulate economic activities in the areas.
A source close to the ranking lawmaker said the senator is preoccupied with the works of his appropriation committee at the parliament.
"You know oga is a core party man and loyalist of the present administration at both federal and state levels, his preoccupation now is to ensure the success of the APC government and nothing more," the source said.
Ahmad Babba Kaita
Like Barau, Kaita was at the House of Representatives before crossing over to the Senate in the last assembly after the demise of Senator Mustapha Bukar.
Kaita, who represents Katsina North Senatorial District, where President Muhammadu Buhari hails from, has not formally declared for the governorship race but his constituents on the social media have commenced campaign for him via a Facebook account, " Senator Ahmed Kaita for Katsina Governor 2023." A check on the account showed that thousands of followers have joined the team.
With his numerous empowerment programs and facilitation of employment for his constituents, analysts are of the view that if he throws his hat in the ring, Kaita will go far.
Asked in a recent interview about his 2023 ambition, Kaita said "before my ambition, I am concerned about the happenings in Katsina today and post Masari's administration. I am not bothered about my ambition; my ambition will come later. We are watching the political dynamics and calculation."
Omo-Agege, a lawyer-turned-politician, is a second termer at the Senate and he is the Deputy Senate President.
Representing Delta Central Senatorial District, Omo-Agege, a die-hard supporter of President Buhari, was shot to limelight following a mace theft controversy in the last Senate. A panel of the parliament probed him over it.
Like others, Omo-Agege has not declared for the race but the feud between him and the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, over the structure of the APC in Delta is being linked to the governorship race.
Months ago, a prominent Ijaw leader, Chief Lucky Akara Gbeneyei, drummed support for Omo-Agege's governorship ambition, saying the lawmaker has similar qualities with the former governor of the state, James Ibori.
Sani, who chairs the Senate committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions has been in the political scene since 1999. At one time, he was former President Olusegun Obasanjo's adviser on Public Affairs.
A major beneficiary of the feud between Malam Nasir El- Rufai, the Kaduna State governor and Senator Shehu Sani, Uba Sani is said to be scheming to succeed El-Rufai. At the build up to the 2019 polls, Shehu Sani was edged out and Uba Sani picked the APC ticket for Kaduna Central Senatorial district.
In Kaduna, it is common knowledge that Uba Sani is one of those eyeing the governorship seat, even though he is yet to declare for the race.
To many, the clash between him and the Speaker of the Kaduna State House of Assembly, Yusuf Zailani, was not unconnected with 2023 politicking and scheming for the Sir Kashim Ibrahim House.
Ishaku Elisha Abbo
Unlike others, Abbo, who represents Adamawa North Senatorial District, has indicated interest to contest for the governorship seat in 2023.
Popularised by the sex toy shop scandal, the first time lawmaker, while announcing his defection to APC from PDP, expressed optimism that he will defeat Governor Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa State in the gubernatorial race.
"I'm not overwhelmed by Governor Fintiri. I fought to bring him to power. The governor did not defeat me. The governor chased me out (of PDP). I actually gave way so I will go and take his seat from him," he said.
Michael Opeyemi Bamidele
Bamidele, fondly called MOB in his home state of Ekiti, is a lawyer, human rights activist, and three-time member of the National Assembly. He currently represents Ekiti Central in the Senate. He had served in the Lagos State government for 12 years under Bola Tinubu and Babatunde Fashola as senior special assistant and commissioner.
Though Bamidele has not publicly disclosed his intention to run for the Ekiti State governorship election holding next year, covert scheming to succeed Governor Kayode Fayemi, whose second term ends on October 15 2022, had begun among the state's politicians, many of whom are playing their cards close to their chest.
Bamidele's party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) is not expected to field a candidate from Ekiti North, where Fayemi hails from. The battle over who flies the party's flag is believed to be between Ekiti Central and Ekiti South. This increases the chance of Bamidele clinching his party's ticket, notwithstanding the many aspirants that are expected to show up.
Senator Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah is seen as a dark horse in the Anambra State governorship poll. His victory in the hotly contested Anambra South Senatorial District election surprised many as his Young Progressives Party (YPP) is relatively unknown.
Since he joined partisan politics, Ubah had made his intention to occupy the number one political seat in Anambra State public. In 2014, he contested at the 2014 Anambra gubernatorial election on the platform of the Labour Party but lost.
Since declaring his intention to contest this year's governorship election in the state, the business mogul had been positioning himself as the candidate to beat in the poll.
Senator Olujimi currently represents Ekiti South in the Ninth Senate. Her return to the Red Chamber was a tough journey. She lost at the poll but won at the tribunal.
Olujimi's political activism dates back to 1999 when she was an ally of the senior Saraki, the late Chief Olusola Saraki. She joined PDP and became a special adviser to then-Governor Ayodele Fayose, who later nominated her as deputy governor after Bisi Omoyeni returned to Wema Bank as the Managing Director /Chief Executive officer.
Though the lawmaker had remained silent on her next political move, her supporters in Ekiti South have been mounting pressure on her to contest for the 2022 governorship election.
Folarin, who represents Oyo Central in the Senate, is interested in occupying the number one political seat in the state and is determined to get it. He had tried once without success, but he's not throwing in the towel.
He contested in 2015 under the PDP, but lost the election to the late Isiaka Abiola Ajimobi, who was then the incumbent governor.
Though he has not publicly expressed interest to run for the coveted seat in Oyo in 2023, there were reports that the lawmaker is covertly oiling his political machinations and hobnobbing with some of his party's bigwigs to actualise his ambition.
Adeyemi, a three-time Senator, had, before now, midwifed parleys with elders in his Kogi West Senatorial District, canvassing support for Governor Yahaya Bello's government.
He didn't stop at that. He has also been defending his governor publicly.
Adeyemi's loyalty to Governor Bello, Kogi political watchers said, is not farfetched. The governor will complete his second term in 2023 and there have been permutations about which of Kogi West and East should produce Bello's successor.
Kogi West - Adeyemi's zone, is the only senatorial district yet to produce an elected governor since the creation of the state in 1991. If, eventually, the pendulum swings to Kogi West, Smart Adeyemi will be among the favoured candidates.